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Does your estate planning check off the big items?

When it comes time for estate administration and probate, have you ticked all the boxes that will help your family proceed? If you haven't planned at all, your heirs will have to rely on the courts to disburse assets according to the law. If you've only planned a little, then you might have left room for family arguments during the process. In the spirit of International Day of Families, we're providing a quick list of things you might want to include in your estate plan to head off family disputes when it comes to probate.

You might start with a living will. Even if you don't have any assets to pass on, you have a body. The living will tells others how you want your body to be treated at the end of life, including whether you want life-saving medical treatment.

Next, you might want a durable power of attorney if you want someone to handle your financial affairs if you are ever incapacitated. You can use a power of attorney to give someone access to your accounts so they can manage money and pay bills -- this way, your utilities are still on if you recover.

It's also a good idea to review beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, checking accounts, savings accounts and pension or retirement funds. Do you have a beneficiary listed? Is that person still one of your heirs?

Finally, a will is always a good idea. Even if you don't have millions in assets, a will serves many purposes. Talk with an estate lawyer to find out how a will might be important in your situation and how it can reduce disputes when it's time to administer your estate.

Source: The Motley Fool, "Estate Planning Checklist: How to Protect Your Future, Your Family, and Your Property," accessed April 29, 2016

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